Do angels really have wings?

angels%20with%20wings

Early Christian Art did not depict angels with wings. Often angels were not shown in human form at all but instead were illustrated as doves or even as the hand of God. 

It would seem that the whole idea of showing angels with wings is simply a device in Art, especially in painting, so that the observer could distinguish between the earthly and celestial figures depicted.

It was after the Roman Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD that angels were commonly shown as having wings in all forms of Art. This is not surprising for most observers of early art were illiterate so the symbolic use of wings and other images to denote spiritual or godly persons was a key element in reading the story in the painting. Haloes were used to depict holy people. 

If you think about it, why would angels, who are spirit beings and therefore not subject to the elements of the universe, and in particular gravity, need wings to enable them to move. Angels after all are spirit beings and are not subject to ordinary matter as we mortals are.

When angels appear in scripture they are generally described as men, as in the passage in Genesis 18 where Abraham welcomes three angelic travelers. Later we read of two angels visiting Sodom and the people there assume them to be human. 

Ancient gods of Babylonia and Egypt and other pagan deities often were shown in sculptured images or stele as having human form with wings or part human with a bird head and even as horses with wings; the familiar Pegasus of mythic tales. Other god like creatures such as Cupid, Hermes and Perseus all appear with wings. 

In my books, following biblical truth, none of my characters who are angels or demons are ever described as having wings. It would be wrong I believe in Christian writing to continue the trend and artistic portrayal of angels having wings to propel themselves through space and time. To do so would be to sentimentalise the true nature of these celestial beings which would after all detract from the truth.

 

PRAYER

Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with God through deliberate communication. Prayer can be a form of religious practice, may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song or even silence. When language is used, prayer may take the form of a hymn, incantation, formal creed, or a spontaneous utterance in the praying person. There are different forms of prayer such as petitionary prayer, prayers of supplication, thanksgiving, and worship/praise. Prayer may be directed towards God for the purpose of worshipping, requesting guidance, requesting assistance, confessing sins or to express one’s thoughts and emotions. Thus, people pray for many reasons such as personal benefit or for the sake of others or to know God’s will. 

Types of Prayer (not intended as an exhaustive list – and not in listed in order of priority)

  • Adoration
  • Worship
  • Praise (songs and psalms)
  • Questioning/informational (knowing His will)
  • Intercession
  • Supplication
  • Healing
  • Petition
  • Thanksgiving
  • Requests
  • Plea
  • Victory
  • Cry for help
  • Confession
  • Glossolalia (speaking, singing, praying in tongues)
  • Conversation
  • Experiential (getting to know Him see Hesychasm in Wikipedia)
  • Contemplative and silent prayer
  • Prophetic
  • Affirmative prayer
  • ‘Thought life’ prayer
  • Recited prayers (Lord’s Prayer, Book of Common Prayer – Anglicans)

 

The Lord’s Prayer: (A model for prayers of adoration, petition & confession)

Our Father in heaven, hallowed is your name.

Your kingdom come, your will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts,

As we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Father, hallowed is your name.

Your kingdom come

Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins,

For we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

And lead us not into temptation

For yours is the kingdom

The power and the glory

Forever and ever Amen.

 

For other prayers see also in the Bible:

  • Song of Moses
  • Song of Hannah
  • Magnificat (Mary)

Ships that don’t go anywhere…

 On Saturday morning I had a guided tour of a lightship moored in Colchester Quay which is now the home of a group of Sea Cadets. 

Did you know that a light ship has no engine, no steering wheel and no rudder? Why not?

It’s a perfectly simple explanation really as to why it isn’t geared up like other sea-going vessels.

In short, once it is in position, it doesn’t move. 

Lightships are towed into position by another boat and the only engine on board is there to provide electricity for the hazard light and for all the other uses on board such as heating, cooking and below-deck lighting.                  

 In days gone by lighthouses were built to warn ships of unseen danger, like rocks, or sunken vessels, or shifting sands. The light burning bright at night or in a storm was solely to warn ships to stay well clear or risk disaster.

The seas around our coasts are sometimes so destructive that many lighthouses built of steel and concrete have been completely destroyed by nature’s angry blasts. 

Lightships fare better that lighthouses, under raging storms as they can roll with the waves and ride on the top of a storm and suffer no damage. 

We have a lovely lady in our church who although wheelchair bound is a shining light to others. 

I think of her as a ‘lightship’ staying in one place, unable to be mobile like the rest of us, nevertheless she manages to smile and laugh. She has an inner light that shines. 

 Jesus said “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” 

Like ships on stormy seas we often are caught up in the tempests and whirlwinds of life’s problems, we lose direction in the darkness, our compass malfunctions, and we become afraid and are lost often without hope. 

In times like this look for those saints who are shining lights in the gloom to lead you back to safety, back home on dry land. 

Steer a course through the dangers and the hazards and head straight for the eternal Light of the World who alone has the power to save you.

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Commission? – Redeeming Mankind through Fiction

>Scientists, engineers and technological inventors and business entrepreneurs say that humanity is on the cusp of a new wave of human creativity like never before.

brain-power1

Instant communications are now possible via the web bringing literally thousands of minds together from all over the planet at one moment in time discarding the limitations of geographical locations. Embryonic concepts and ideas when shared on the global net can result in brave new inventions with mind-blowing rapidity. Human thought can coalesce in a way that mimics the micro-world of biology by using chip technology. These synaptic pulses occurring ever second of the day and night in the global-brain, produces millions of new ideas and fresh concepts that have never before been thought of.

This is truly the age of human wonder and the birthing of completely fresh subjects of thought and intellectual imagination.

Laying the disciplines of science and technology aside the same suppositions can be transferred to literature and writing. The impact of words via the global village has never been more fertile or dynamic in its capability to influence individuals, cultures and nations.

The power of the word is here and now.

Word%20power

When we have a headache it isn’t long before we reach for aspirin. If we are overweight and want to shed pounds or really want to be successful in our chosen field we can reach for a book or a manual that will guide us through 10 easy steps to improve our lives. There is a Dummies book for every situation every condition of life. There is probably a ‘Dummies Guide to Death’

As imagination and creativity crosses boundaries and mixes disciplines, collaborating in previously unknown ways, incredible results occur. Previously thought unsolvable problems are figured out in hours by creative minds working in unison

Human endeavour is forging new boundaries, breaking out of the box of tradition and orthodoxy. We are thinking in ways now, not just laterally, that’s old hat, but thinking in a way that resembles six dimensions. The equivalence of string theory and quantum mechanics is being applied to the arts and humanities, not just to science.
New thinkers are ditching personal labels. I am not just a scientist, not just a physician, not just an explorer of space but much, much more. Exclusive thinking is out and inclusivity is in.

My own fields are blurred sufficiently enough to give me a big start in this arena. As an engineer with an academic university degree I thought differently to all my colleagues. I was a renaissance man. I brought my philosophic and artistic mind to solve engineering problems and conversely I used my engineer’s mind to help with the practical aspects of my own chosen art; writing.

My background was unimpressive to start with. Leaving school at barely fifteen from a poor neighbourhood school in London’s East End I was not equipped for anything but breathing. That is until I walked into a library in East Ham to get out of the rain one Saturday afternoon.

I was thunderstruck. I had never ever seen so many books, shelves and shelves of books, rows upon rows and books of every size, colour and type, literally thousands of them. I stood dumbfounded by this awesome sight. A kind librarian told me that I could take these books away, for weeks at a time, and all for free. Since that day I have never stopped reading books.

That was a long time ago. Times change, I now read electronic books on my Kindle. Change or die. But the books and stories I read daily in paperbacks, in hardbacks and now on Kindle are still the same sort of stories and novels that I read over fifty years ago. Systems change but we still stay the same.

Maybe the time is ripe for a change in writing and in reading.

Cross fertilization in biology often brings strange hybrids that are not fit to live but sometimes a miracle happens and a new species is born that adds value to human kind.

How about this idea, what if we take the whole driving force behind DIY books, get-fit, lose weight, become a better person, and take the form that is so familiar sitting on the non-fiction shelf and create a ‘fiction’ corollary that produces better, more effective results than the one-dimensional ‘Help-Yourself in 10 Easy Steps’ books.

We reach for the aspirin because we are too impatient to take the natural cure. We know that the answer to getting rid of a headache is to sit quietly, rest and patiently let the body heal itself. Physicians know that the human body is a fantastic healer when allowed to do its work unaided. The placebo is simply a means of proving this fact.

The trouble with ‘Help-Yourself’ manuals is that our approach to these books is fundamentally wrong. We actually believe the advertising hype that made us buy the book. Yet our expectations are totally unrealistic. We get halfway into the book, knowing deep down it’s never going to work for us. We quit, reinforcing the enshrined idea that once again we have failed.

If we had stopped beforehand and thought about the book before we handed over the money we would have realized that no one person could write a book that would be able to universally help millions of uniquely different people.

Works of fiction are importantly and essentially different to non-fiction in a very special way.

This is my main point.

When you read good fiction there is a vital empathy between writer and reader. The reason it works for only one writer and millions of readers, is that the empathy is uniquely strong. It’s like a romance. Hands touch, eyes meet and hearts converge as one beating heart.

The reader’s intimacy with the tale, with the characters, with the drama, is both private and public. The reader becomes part of the plot. His or her mind is inextricably linked at a very deep level of consciousness. Whether the action is serious or comical, solemn or trivial, life or death, in all conditions, it is the precious human interaction occurring at the core of the exchange process of reading and being read.

The ideas expressed in the book, the emotions felt by the characters and the reader, the human landscapes travelled through are powerful persuaders, albeit subliminal or obvious.

My brand phrase is ‘Redeeming mankind through fiction’ now makes important sense.

My faith mission as a Christian writer is carry out the great commission that Jesus gave his disciples to take His message, the Gospel to every corners of the world.

I was recently given a ‘word’ from the Lord. It was simple yet profound.

“As the Holy Spirit is intimately involved in the writing of your books so the Holy Spirit will be profoundly involved when someone reads your book. The Holy Spirit will speak to the reader’s heart and truth will be imparted.”

I have already received testimonies from people who have read ‘Light of the Wicked’ who have been deeply affected by the story and have gone on, to search for God and salvation. For them it has been more than just entertainment it has been a way of coming to know a God they thought did not exist.

Christian writers have an awesome responsibility not to just create entertaining books but to share the gospel, not by preaching at the reader but by allowing the quality of the story to bring the reader into the presence of the living God. The exchange process is one of respect. God does not ever force himself on anyone. The reader by coming into contact with a story that reflects God’s truth and life is entering into a heart to heart conversation the Lord of Heaven.

The Bible is the bestselling book of all time chiefly because it is about people, about God and Christ and shows us the way to eternal life. Let those who read truly understand.

Religious Violence Kills Love

News reports show in graphic details Buddhist monks attacking Muslims in Burma. Christians fighting and killing Muslims in Syria indiscriminately. Islamist extremists blowing-up Catholics in Nigeria. Sikh’s and Hindu’s battle each other in India.

Religious violence is a common factor in today’s world.

The face of the twenty first century is deeply scarred by radical religious movements constantly evolving and emerging it would appear from all the world’s cultures. Whether they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh or Hindu they all share one basic common denominator…MAN!

The key factor in all these outrageous inhuman acts is man fostering and perpetrating violence because of a deeply held belief that their God hates the other people’s belief and will go to extraordinary lengths to crush and destroy the opposition.

This has little or nothing to do with religion. It has all to do with man’s prejudices and self-interest. I am not an expert on all religions, but I am sure that most faiths, and certainly the Christian faith preach tolerance, peace, love and charity to fellow human beings. It seems that in the very DNA of man is the proclivity to act violently towards each other, especially when our beliefs are trammeled upon and offended. What is this to do with God?

I know from my own understanding of Christianity that it has nothing to do with God. My personal knowledge of God is that he is an inclusive God reaching out to all faiths and all peoples, rich or poor, black or white, Jew or Gentile.

At times it seems impossible that man, having made contact with a gracious super-powerful creator, can remain silent long enough to hear from God how he wants us to live and not rushing off with sword and gun in hand to construct our own ill-founded versions of religion.

Do Angels really have wings?

Early Christian Art did not depict angels with wings. Often angels were not shown in human form at all but instead were illustrated as doves or even as the hand of God.

It would seem that the whole idea of showing angels with wings is simply a device in Art, especially in painting, so that the observer could distinguish between the earthly and celestial figures depicted.

It was after the Roman Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD that angels were commonly shown as having wings in all forms of Art. This is not surprising for most observers of early art were illiterate so the symbolic use of wings and other images to denote spiritual or godly persons was a key element in reading the story in the painting. Haloes were used to depict holy people.

If you think about it, why would angels, who are spirit beings and therefore not subject to the elements of the universe, and in particular gravity, need wings to enable them to move. Angels after all are spirit beings and are not subject to ordinary matter as we mortals are.

When angels appear in scripture they are generally described as men, as in the passage in Genesis 18 where Abraham welcomes three angelic travelers. Later we read of two angels visiting Sodom and the people there assume them to be human.

Ancient gods of Babylonia and Egypt and other pagan deities often were shown in sculptured images or stele as having human form with wings or part human with a bird head and even as horses with wings; the familiar Pegasus of mythic tales. Other god like creatures such as Cupid, Hermes and Perseus all appear with wings.

In my books, following biblical truth, none of my characters who are angels or demons are ever described as having wings. It would be wrong I believe in Christian writing to continue the trend and artistic portrayal of angels having wings to propel themselves through space and time. To do so would be to sentimentalise the true nature of these celestial beings which would after all detract from the truth.

A Few Christmas Thoughts On Marketing

Eternity

Allow the tide to flow
Inwards once more
Let the waters slowly rise
Filling the channels
Covering the dry causeway
Finally to obscure the foot prints
Left by solitary souls.
 
Let the clouds roll across
The clear night sky
Hiding the brilliant stars
Bringing the shadows upon the land
Shuttering the moon’s light
Leaving only darkness to
Draw the veil over creation.
 
And in the morning let
The first snow fall relentless,
Becoming a thickening blanket
Of pure whiteness bringing
A painful, grip of sudden silence
That steals the fire from every
Living thing, plant, beast and man.
 
Let the mind cease to struggle
Let barren thoughts expand
Let the vacant spaces be filled
With an urgent sense of nothing
And let the deep shadows of the soul
Have freedom to rise, to sweep
Across the intellect and face the eyes.
 
In the quiet morning of your
Dreams let your spirit ride the waters
As the tide returns to the deep
And like a sleek ship trusting the wind
Be carried away to a new universe
To a certain eternity where no fear is
And love grows like scented blossoms.

Learning to Become a Writer Can Be a Very Rocky Road!

Do we modern civilized westerners really know what it is to travel along a rocky road?

I have just finished reading a book called The Friar of Carcassonne. It is a terrible tale of religious persecution and the horrors of the Catholic Church Inquisition in 13th century Languedoc, a region of southern France, and the famed land of the Cathars.

One very common feature of medieval life was that if you wanted to get from Rome to Paris or Paris to Carcassonne, your choices of transport were few. Horse and cart, riding a horse or donkey, or going by Shanks’s pony–in other words, foot-slogging weariness for hundreds of miles. And the highways and byways were either hard, rocky, dusty roads in summer or icy, frozen lanes and quagmires in winter. Both descriptions could be understood to be a rocky road.

Can I seriously liken my journey in becoming a writer to a rocky road experience? Honestly, I don’t think I can. Sitting in a comfortable study, shelves full of reference books to consult with and now in these, our marvelous times, having a window onto everything through the screen of my PC. A good wife to provide cups of coffee and hand-made sandwiches at my request, a safe environment outside should I want a breather, and even a tender mattress to lie upon should I get overworked and need a nap.

What can I say on this subject?

My second thought took me back to a summer morning twenty-five years ago. Slipping out of the English Lakes holiday cottage at five a.m., I was bound for Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain. I had planned the trip many months before, pored over the ordnance survey maps to find the best way up to the summit while avoiding any obvious hazards and dangers en-route. I had planned it well. Made a list of all the equipment I needed, and not just needed for the climb, but also in case of emergency, accident, or injury. I wrote a route map and planned to give a copy to a responsible person who knew where I was going and what time I was expected to return and who also would know what to do in the unlikely event I didn’t come back at the appointed time.

The night before my intrepid adventure, I checked my equipment against the list. I made doubly sure that everything was in good order especially my handy fell walkers compass. Triple checked that I had enough food and drink. Had I packed a whistle to raise the alarm and a camera to record the good bits and a pair of binoculars to see what was up ahead?

It was a great day out. All was well. I got to the summit late morning, and there was no one else about. Most importantly, I got back safely and on time, so thankfully the mountain rescue folks weren’t needed.

For sake of argument, disregard the comfortable study and the peripheral luxuries that often accompany the writer’s life. Consider the following circumstances in comparison. If a writer starts out his or her journey in a lackadaisical fashion, then only failure can be the result. If I had started out on the climb up Scafell Pike without proper planning or management or the right equipment then perhaps I might not have returned. I might have encountered many pitfalls on the way for which I had made no contingency plans and thus suffered the consequences.

To avoid the rocky road, the apprentice writer must plan ahead carefully.

A daily timetable is a very good idea. Work out which part of the day is the most creative and productive for you. Don’t fall for the ‘you must get up at dawn to be a serious writer’ jab. If you are a nocturnal creature, write at night. But remember most bad novels were written just after a good lunch.

If you must, put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door, so you can concentrate while you are being productive.

Make sure your ‘climbing’ materials are all in good working condition and you have all of the necessities.

Here’s a last tip. A trio of guys, Dibell, Scott Card, & Turco, wrote a book called How to Write a Million and it has helped me a lot over my years as a writer. Check it out!

How have you overcome ‘rocky road’ experiences as a writer? In life?

Against the Clouds

The mourners gathered in the street and onlookers held curtains
back or clicked the plastic blinds to see but not to be seen. Others stood
at open doorways watching silently. He must have been a wealthy man. Four
black Mercedes, long limousines and a score of undertakers.

The light faded and the sun obscured by grey clouds and the rain, the rain
fell hard and swift. The clouds rolled by heading south into the land of the
living.

The chief undertaker and elderly man himself, not far from death, black
top-hatted in velvet, walked slowly ahead of the shining cavalcade. In his
right hand he held the black umbrella aloft and in his left hand he swung a
silver topped black Malacca cane. It moved cleverly in the funeral manager’s
hand, tapping out a slow rhythm on the wet shining asphalt like a beat on a
muffled drum.

A flock of funereal crows circled overhead.

The sleek cars followed the engines whirring silently. The mourners
ensconced on leather seats held hands, and slipped comfort words easily off
their lips to one another. The children dressed in black rode along squeezed
in between the adults feeling small and watching the eyes of living for
clues.

The leading hearse halted at the cross road to let the chief get in out of
the rain.

The driver commented to his colleague ‘It’s a perfect day for a funeral. I
hate sunny days.’

The last car followed. Not a limousine. An old car, not black, belonging to
a poor relative, it had a little flag on the bonnet flying precariously
against the wind, the magnet just holding fast on the rusting metal.

The limousines sped along the highway gathering speed. The routine of
observing death could not wait.

The route took them away from the clouds, to the dark vale of the north. The
deceased’s eyes closed, not wishing to see anymore, headed the way of
passing, now passed away. The coffin always heading forward, not back, there
is no coming back for the dead.

The long line of stately vehicles, the dignified drove on, living souls
contemplating the end of things searched for platitudes to share with the
Minister or God always seeking absolution or instead hiding behind the eyes
of fear.

The cavalcade of black shining cars, the occupants enclosed, trying out just
what it feels like to take the final journey, against the passing clouds.